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Church, filled with the Holy Ghost, was to manifest herself to the Synagogue. The lot fell on Matthias;1 he shared with his Brother-Apostles in the Jerusalem persecution, and, when the time came for the Ambassadors of Christ to separate, he set out for the countries allotted to him. Tradition tells us, that these were Cappadocia and the provinces bordering on the Caspian Sea.
The virtues, labours and sufferings of St. Matthias have not been handed down to us: this explains there being no proper Lessons on his Life, as there are for the Feasts of the rest of the Apostles. Clement of Alexandria records, in his Writings, several sayings of our holy Apostle. One of these is so very appropriate to the spirit of the present Season, that we consider it a duty to quote it. "It behoves us to "combat the flesh, and make use of it, without pam"pering it by unlawful gratifications. As to the soul, we must develop her power by Faith and "Knowledge."2 How profound is the teaching contained in these few words! Sin has deranged the order which the Creator had established. It gave the outward man such a tendency to grovel in things which degrade him, that the only means left us for the restoration of the Likeness and Image of God unto which we were created, is the forcibly subjecting the Body to the Spirit. But the Spirit itself, that is, the Soul, was also impaired by Original Sin, and her inclinations were made prone to evil:what is to be her protection? Faith and Knowledge. Faith humbles her, and then exalts and rewards her; and the reward is Knowledge. Here we have a summary of what the Church teaches us during the two Seasons of Septuagesima and Lent. Let us thank the holy Apostle, in this his Feast, for leaving us such a lesson of spiritual wisdom and fortitude. The
1 Acts, i.
2 Stromat., Lib. iii. Cap. iv.
same traditions, which give us some slight information regarding the holy life of St. Matthias, tell us that his Apostolic labours were crowned with the palm of martyrdom. Let us celebrate his triumph by the following Stanzas, which are taken from the Menæa of the Greeks.
(Die IX. Augusti.)
O Blessed Matthias! thou, a spiritual Eden, didst flow, like a full river, from the divine fountain; thou didst water the earth with thy mystic rivulets, and make it fruitful. Do thou, therefore, beseech the Lord that he grant peace and much mercy to our souls.
O Apostle Matthias! thou didst complete the sacred college, from which Judas had fallen; and, by the power of the Holy Ghost, thou didst put to flight the darkness of idolatry by the admirable lightnings of thy wise words. Do thou now beseech the Lord that he grant peace and much mercy to our souls.
He that is the True Vine sent thee, a fruitful branch, bearing the grapes that give out the wine of salvation. When they drank it that before were slaves to ignorance, they turned from the drunkenness of error.
Being made, O glorious Matthias, the chariot of God's Word, thou didst break for ever the wheels of error, and
Matthia beate, Eden spiritualis, fontibus divinis ut fluvius inundans scaturisti, et mysticis terram irrigasti rivulis, et illam fructiferam reddidisti; ideo deprecare Dominum ut animabus nostris pacem concedat et magnam misericordiam.
Matthia Apostole, divinum replevisti collegium ex quo Judas ceciderat, et divinis sapientum sermonum tuorum fulgoribus tenebras fugasti idololatriæ, virtute Spiritus Sancti ; et nunc deprecare Dominum, ut mentibus nostris concedat pacem et magnam misericordiam.
Ut multifrugiferum palmitem te Vitis vera direxit, colentem uvam quæ salutis vinum profundit; illud bibentes qui detinebantur ignorantia, erroris temulentiam rejecerunt.
Erroris axes, iniquitatis currus, Verbi Dei ipse currus factus, gloriose, in perpetuum contrivisti; et ido
lolatras, et columnas et templa radicitus divina virtute destruxisti, Trinitatis vero templa ædificasti clamantia: Populi, superexaltate Christum in sæcula.
Ut spirituale Cœlum apparuisti, enarrans gloriam unigeniti Filii Dei ineffabilem, Matthia venerabilis; fulgur Spiritus Sancti, piscator errantium, lumen divinæ claritatis, mysteriorum doctor; ipsum in lætitia unanimi voce celebremus.
Amicum te dixit Salvator, suis obtemperantem mandatis, beate Apostole, et ipsius regni hæredem, et cum ipso sedentem in throno in futura terribili die, sapientissime Matthia, collegii duodenarii Apostolorum complementum.
Crucis velamine instructus, vitæ sæviens mare trajecisti, beate, et ad requiei portum pervenisti; et nunc ĺætus cum Apostolorum choro judicum altissimo adstare digneris, Dominum pro nobis exorans misericordem.
Lampas aureo nitore fulgens, Spiritus Sancti ellychnio ardens, lingua tua
the chariots of iniquity. By the divine power, thou didst defeat the idolaters, and destroy the pillars and the temples; but thou didst build up to the Trinity other temples, which echoed with these words: All ye people, praise Christ above all for ever!
O venerable Matthias! thou, like a spiritual firmament, didst proclaim the glory of the Only-Begotten Son of God. Let us with one glad voice celebrate the praise of this Apostle, who was effulgent with the Holy Ghost; he was the fisher of them that had gone astray, the light that reflected the divine brightness, the teacher of the mysteries.
O blessed Apostle! the Saviour called thee his Friend, because thou didst keep his commandments. Thou art heir to his kingdom, and thou art to sit with him, on a throne, at the last terrible day, O most wise Matthias, who didst complete the twelve of the Apostolic college.
Guided by the sail of the Cross, thou, O blessed one, didst pass over the troubled sea of life, and didst reach the haven of rest. Do thou now vouchsafe to join the glad choir of the Apostles, and beseech the infinite Judge, that he would show himself a merciful Lord unto us.
Thy tongue was a bright lamp of glittering gold, burning with the flame of the Holy
Ghost. Thou didst consume all strange doctrines, thou didst quench all fire that was profane, and to them that sat in the darkness of ignorance, thou, O wise Matthias, didst show a brilliant light.
apparuit, extranea comburens dogmata, extraneum extinguens ignem, o sapiens Matthia, lucem fulgurans sedentibus in tenebris ignorantiæ.
SAINT MARGARITE OF CORTONA,
CLOSE to the faithful Virgins, who form the Court of Jesus, there stand those holy women, whose repentance has merited for them a prominent place in the Calendar of the Church. They are the bright trophies of God's Mercy. They expiated their sins by a life of penance; the tears of their compunction wiped away their guilt; He that is Purity itself has found them worthy of his love, and, when Pharisees affect to be shocked at his allowing them to be near him, he warmly defends them. Foremost among these is Mary Magdalene, to whom much was forgiven, because she loved much; but there are two on the list of Penitent Saints whose names shine most brightly on the Calendar of this portion of the year, and were, like Mary Magdalene, ardent in their love of the Divine Master, whom they had once offended: -these are, Mary of Egypt, and Margarite of Cortona. It is the second of these who to-day tells us the consoling truth, that if sin separate us from God, penance has the power of not only disarming his anger, but of forming between God and the sinner that ineffable bond of love, which the Apostle alludes to when he says: Where sin hath abounded, grace hath more abounded.2
1 St. Luke, vii. 47.
2 Rom. v. 20.